Newcastle defender Chancel Mbemba is back in training and could feature but captain Fabricio Coloccini remains very doubtful with a calf injury.
Striker Papiss Cisse might be involved for the first time since December after overcoming a groin problem.
Sunderland have a near full-strength squad, with Jeremain Lens and Lee Cattermole back from injury.
Jermain Defoe has returned to training after suffering a minor calf strain and will be available.
MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTES
Guy Mowbray: “With an inter-city rivalry that’s raged since the English Civil War, any Newcastle-Sunderland duel truly tests the idea that ‘time is a great healer’ – and then the managers come into the mix.
“Rafa and Sam don’t get on. They haven’t since Allardyce’s Bolton beat Benitez’s Liverpool in 2004, and there have been words and counter-words wherever the game has taken them since.
“The only words needed now are those that help a win, with a feeling that the beaten team will lose a lot more than local face this time.
“Does that make this Tyne & Wear derby ‘matter more’ than all before? Maybe only to outsiders.
“This is a game that ALWAYS comes with a tackles and tears guarantee.”
WHAT THE MANAGERS SAY
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce on his rivalry with Rafa Benitez: “It is so long ago, all that stuff, that it is water under the bridge.
“This is about players, it’s not about me against Rafa. It’s about preparing the players the best we possibly can, physically and mentally.
“It’s a massive derby, obviously. They are always huge but this is even bigger.”
Sunderland have had the upper hand in this fixture for a few seasons now but I already saw some improvement from Newcastle in Rafa Benitez’s first game in charge, Monday’s defeat by Leicester.
I cannot tip Newcastle to win, though, because I don’t think their players have the correct mindset.
If they cannot motivate themselves to play when their team is facing the drop, then they will have the same problem with a game against Sunderland.
- Think you can do better than Lawro? Predict the score for this match and the rest of this round’s Premier League fixtures in our Predictor game.
- Sunderland are unbeaten in their last eight meetings with Newcastle (W6, D2) and have won the last six in a row.
- The Magpies have managed to score just one goal in their last 627 minutes of football against Sunderland.
- In October, Sam Allardyce became the fourth consecutive Sunderland boss to beat Newcastle in their second game in charge. This will be Rafael Benitez’s second match as Magpies manager.
- Newcastle have lost six of their last seven league matches (W1), although their defeat by Bournemouth was their first in four league games at St James’ Park (W2, D1).
- The Magpies have only scored four goals in their last seven Premier League matches, while they have conceded 15 goals in those games.
- Rafael Benitez has not lost his opening home league match as manager at any of his last six clubs (W5, D1).
- The only opposition manager that Benitez has beaten more often in the Premier League than Sam Allardyce (7) is David Moyes (10).
- Sunderland have only lost one of their previous five league matches – although three of those ended in a draw (W1).
- The Black Cats have won just three of their last 26 Premier League away games (W3, D8, L15).
- Sunderland have conceded 38 goals away from home this season, the most of any team in the Premier League.
- Jermain Defoe has scored seven goals in his last eight league appearances away from home.